Dear brothers and sisters,
The horrific events of this last week have shaken each one of us - like 9/11 before it, many of us will no doubt remember where we were and what we were doing when we first heard the terrible news. I was watching Newsnight on BBC2 on Monday night when, as the programme was coming to an end, the presenter announced the news of an explosion in Manchester just minutes before. I stayed up 'til the early hours, as details of the tragedy unfolded. But it was not until the next day that the full scale of the carnage, with its horrific onslaught against young innocent lives, became apparent.
In times of emotional turmoil and overwhelming grief we can be tempted to doubt God and even hide from him. And yet if we seek his face we, like the Psalmist, can know that "God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble." (Psalm 46:1) The day after the attack, we had a special prayer meeting for Manchester in St Cuthbert's House of Prayer, and have since opened a book of condolence in St Michael le Belfrey Church, with a sign outside to welcome people in to sign the book, light a candle, and say a prayer. As you pray for the people of Manchester, I would encourage you to pray Psalm 34:18 - "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed."
It is my continued prayer that all those affected by this tragedy might not run from God but to God, and will know the consolation and comfort of his Holy Spirit.
With love in Christ,